It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

Hillary Clinton once used the phrase “it takes a village” to describe the need for local communities to help children develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults. But the community is also a necessary support to its adult population, as well, to create a symbiotic relationship where people are given help and they in turn, help the community thrive.

The land I bought is in a town with a population of roughly 1,000 people, and is struggling to regain its economic and social footing following many years of business downturn and neglect. Like many small towns in the Northeastern U.S., this little enclave of Philmont, N.Y., was once a thriving mill town, manufacturing woolen undergarments, paper, machinery, and knitting needles. Sheep roamed through the town and there were two manufacturing mills powered by hydroelectric power from a waterfall. Several local residents have been helping rebuild their community from the bottom up and have applied for and received government funds to help. They are working to create an affordable food co-op, which is being set up as a producer/consumer direct market working exclusively with local and New York farmers and producers.

Last summer, a local magazine profiled 36 locals who helped bring about positive change in the community. They include artists, community builders, merchants, local business manufacturers, ministers, farmers etc. Their projects include restoring an old inn for housing seniors, opening up a sophisticated yet affordable farm-to-table restaurant on the Main Street, obtaining grants to help launch community programs, and creating art programs. It is a mixture of these various initiatives that bode well for the future sustainability of this community.